Egbert Benson

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Egbert Benson
Egbert Benson (NYPL Hades-255916-430935).jpg
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from New York
In office
March 4, 1813 – August 2, 1813
Preceded byWilliam Paulding Jr.
Succeeded byWilliam Irving
Constituency2nd district
In office
March 4, 1789 – March 3, 1793
Preceded bySeat established
Succeeded byPhilip Van Cortlandt
Constituency3rd district
Chief Judge of the United States Circuit Court for the Second Circuit
In office
February 20, 1801 – July 1, 1802
Appointed byJohn Adams
Preceded bySeat established by 2 Stat. 89
Succeeded bySeat abolished
1st Attorney General of New York
In office
May 8, 1777 – May 14, 1788
GovernorGeorge Clinton
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byRichard Varick
Personal details
Born
Egbert Benson

(1746-06-21)June 21, 1746
New York City,
Province of New York,
British America
DiedAugust 24, 1833(1833-08-24) (aged 87)
Jamaica, New York
Resting placeProspect Cemetery
Jamaica, New York
Political partyFederalist
RelativesEgbert Benson
EducationColumbia University
read law

Egbert Benson (June 21, 1746 – August 24, 1833) was a lawyer, jurist, politician from New York City, New York and a Founding Father of the United States who represented New York State in the Continental Congress, Annapolis Convention, and the United States House of Representatives, and who served as a member of the New York State constitutional convention in 1788 which ratified the United States Constitution. He also served as the 1st Attorney General of the State of New York, Chief Justice of the New York Supreme Court, and as the Chief United States Circuit Judge of the United States Circuit Court for the Second Circuit. He is one of the Dutch Americans alongside John Jay to lead the American Revolution.

Education and career[edit]

Benson's ancestor, Dirck Benson, who settled in New Amsterdam in 1649, was the founder of the Benson family in America.[1] Egbert Benson was born in New York City, New York, the son of Robert Benson (1715–1762) and Catherine (Van Borsum) Benson (1718–1794). The Benson family was one of the earliest Dutch families to have settled in Manhattan.[2][3] In a letter written to Arthur D. Benson, Egbert Benson lived at the corner of Puntine and Fulton streets in the home of William Puntine.[4] The house was apparently not numbered until 1907, when it became No. 436 Fulton Street.[4] In 1938, Puntine Street became 165th Street, while Fulton Street became Jamaica Avenue.[4] His home was one of the centers of cultural life in New York City.[1] Benson lived with his maternal grandmother, a widow who lived in Borad Street, at the corner of Beaver, during the early part of his life.[5]

Benson was taught in Dutch, and he learned his catechism in that language.[5] Upon reaching a suitable age, Benson attended the Collegiate School[6], a school of repute, and prepared himself for college.[5] During this time, he was guided and assisted greatly by the learned and deep-read scholar, the Reverend Doctor Barclay, Rector of Trinity Church.[5] He was privately educated, then attended King's College (now Columbia University), graduating in 1765.[7] He read law, was admitted to the bar and moved to Red Hook in Dutchess County, New York.[7] He practiced law both there and in New York City.[7] Benson was also honored by Harvard University and Dartmouth College.[1]

Benson had many significant relatives in the American Revolution.[citation needed] One was Benjamin Benson, a Revolutionary War soldier and member of the Committee of Correspondence.[citation needed] He signed one of the Articles of Association, or "Association Test", which was preliminary to the Declaration of Independence, at Haverstraw, New York, in May 1775.[1] Egbert Benson was the brother of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Benson and Captain Henry Benson, who commanded an armed vessel in the Revolution.[1]

Political and judicial service[edit]

Towards the start of the American Revolutionary War, Benson approved the course of the Sons of Liberty and gave up, in a measure, his professional prospects then brightly opening and devoted himself to his country: these exertions showed the man's value of this step to both his native state and the cause he aided.[5] He aided the Sons of Liberty, who were in Dutchess County where Benson, as a part of his first efforts, gave proper directions to the political meetings.[5] When the British occupied New York City in 1776, Benson remained in Dutchess County for several years.[citation needed] According to Van Schaack, Benson from 1777 to 1781 served as a member of the New York State Assembly and drafted every important bill passed there in during the Revolution.[8] He was also a representative in the Second Continental Congress (Continental Congress) (Congress of the Confederation from 1781), from 1780, and drew bills organizing the executive department of the United States.[8] The county made him the president of their Committee of Safety and in 1777 sent him to the revolutionary New York State Assembly.[citation needed] When the first state government was organized, Benson was appointed the first New York Attorney General and served until 1788.[7] He was elected to the Assembly annually until 1781 and again in 1788.[7]

During a state dinner in December 1783, given by the State of New York to George Washington and the Minister of France, the bill for the cost of this historic dinner was O.K.'d/ paid by Egbert Benson and Isaac Roosevelt.[1]

New York sent Benson as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1784.[9] Although he was reappointed in 1785,[9] he did not attend sessions.[citation needed] In 1786, he was named by the Legislature to accompany Alexander Hamilton as a delegate to the Annapolis Convention (1786), which issued a call for the United States Constitutional Convention held the following year.[citation needed] He returned to the Congress in 1787 and 1788, and in 1788 attended the New York state convention that ratified the United States Constitution.[9]

When the new federal government was established, Benson was elected from New York's 3rd congressional district to the United States House of Representatives of the 1st and 2nd United States Congresses, serving from March 4, 1789 to March 3, 1793.[9] In 1794, Benson was appointed a Justice of the New York Supreme Court, a position he held until 1801.[7]

Benson was part of the three-man commission that decided the location of the St. Croix River in 1798.[citation needed]

Federal judicial service[edit]

Benson was nominated by President John Adams on February 18, 1801, to the United States Circuit Court for the Second Circuit, to the new Chief Judge seat authorized by 2 Stat. 89.[7] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 20, 1801, and received his commission the same day.[7] His service terminated on July 1, 1802, due to abolition of the court.[7]

Later life[edit]

The files and papers belonging to the Arthur D. Benson manuscript collection further state that Benson had a close friendship with General Richard Montgomery. On the back of a criticism, Benson, in his own handwriting, stated: "I knew Montgomery. We were neighbors; and in the closest intimacy for a time until he (was) called to the field. He was a man of sense and worth; the terms taken in their most significant import. As a soldier, his deeds bespeak him truly, the Vir Strunuus."[8]

Benson returned to the private practice of law in New York City in 1802.[7] He joined other civic leaders to found the New-York Historical Society and served as its first president from 1804 to 1816.[9] He was the author of several books, including Vindication of the Captors of Major Andre, defending the three American Patriots who captured the spy Major John André, which led to the discovery of the plot to surrender West Point to the British by Benedict Arnold.[citation needed]

In 1812, Benson was again elected from New York's 2nd congressional district to the United States House of Representatives of the 13th United States Congress as a Federalist but served only five months before he resigned on August 2, 1813.[9] In December 1813, Benson was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society.[10]

Benson's numerous other writings included A Biographical Sketch of Gouverneur Morris (published in November 1816), and Brief Remarks on the 'Wife' of Washington Irving (published in 1819).[8] Benson also wrote and published in the New York American a series of able and highly interesting articles, in condemnation of what he regarded as the absurd and anti-Christian practice of calling the first day of the week the Sabbath.[8]

Benson married late in life, on May 17, 1820, to Maria Conover (1796–1867).[citation needed] He died on August 24, 1833, in Jamaica, Queens, and is buried in the Prospect Cemetery there.[9] His grave has been designated by a historical marker.[2] His death left John Marshall and James Madison as the only surviving Founding Fathers of the United States.[citation needed]

In a small letter belonging to the Arthur D. Benson manuscript collection (found at the Queens Central Library Archives), Benson's great-grandnephew, Hevlyn Dirck Benson, noted that Egbert was the "last important tenant" who resided at the Richmond Hill House, in which the site is now occupied by the Butterick Building.[11]

Descendants and legacy[edit]

Egbert's oldest brother was Clerk of the New York State Senate, Robert Benson (1739–1823),[12] father of his namesake, Egbert Benson.[13]

According to manuscripts and notes found in the Arthur D. Benson manuscript collection at Queens Library, Benson's name was engraved on a bronze tablet on the Butterick Building on 6th Avenue and Spring Street in New York City; this tablet was placed there by the Greenwich Village Historical Society.[1]

Hevelyn D. Benson, great-grandnephew of Egbert Benson, sent Jerome D. Greene, director of Harvard's Trancentanery, seven photostats concerning Egbert Benson.[14] Hevelyn Benson was also a member of the New York Historical Society, founded in 1804 by his ancestor, Egbert Benson.[14] Benson also included a photostat of an article in The Eagle from September 16, 1935, which designated Egbert Benson as the man behind the Constitution.[14] The state historical marker for Benson's grave was applied to Senator Thomas C. Desmond, a trustee of the New York State Historical Society, by Hevelyn Benson.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Arthur D. Benson Genealogical Notes and Correspondence Concerning Egbert Benson and the Benson Family 1938 Control, manuscript collection finding aid, Archives at Queens Library: "Genealogical Notes" Folder: 179/2 1934: Benson, Arthur D. "Some Data of the Descendents of Dirck Bensing or Bensingh (Benson) of Amsterdam and Groningen, the Netherlands, who settled in New Amsterdam (New York City) in 1648. He was born in Groningen, Netherlands. 1934.
  2. ^ a b Guide to the Arthur D. Benson Genealogical Notes and Correspondence Concerning Egbert Benson and the Benson Family 1938 Control # B-11 [1]
  3. ^ Society, United States Capitol Historical (July 5, 2000). "Neither Separate Nor Equal: Congress in the 1790s". Ohio University Press – via Google Books.
  4. ^ a b c Arthur D. Benson Genealogical Notes and Correspondence Concerning Egbert Benson and the Benson Family 1938 Control, manuscript collection finding aid, Archives at Queens Library: "Correspondence" Folder: 179/1 1938-1939: "Letter to Mr. Arthur D. Benson." 29 OCT. 1938.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Arthur D. Benson Genealogical Notes and Correspondence Concerning Egbert Benson and the Benson Family 1938 Control, manuscript collection finding aid, Archives at Queens Library: "Genealogical Notes" Folder: 179/2 1934: Benson, Arthur D. "Alderman Benson's Memoir of the Benson Family: Alderman Benson's Paper on the Benson Family".
  6. ^ N.Y.), Collegiate Church School (New York; Dunshee, Henry Webb (1883). History of the School of the Collegiate Reformed Dutch Church in the City of New York, from 1633 to 1883. Print of the Aldine Press.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Egbert Benson at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  8. ^ a b c d e Arthur D. Benson Genealogical Notes and Correspondence Concerning Egbert Benson and the Benson Family 1938 Control, manuscript collection finding aid, Archives at Queens Library: "Genealogical Notes" folder 179/2 1934: Benson, Arthur D. "Alderman Benson's Memoir of the Benson Family: Mr. Van Schaack's Additional Paper.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g United States Congress. "Egbert Benson (id: B000388)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  10. ^ "MemberListB". American Antiquarian Society.
  11. ^ Arthur D. Benson Genealogical Notes and Correspondence Concerning Egbert Benson and the Benson Family 1938 Control, manuscript collection finding aid, Archives at Queens Library: "Correspondence" Folder: 179/1 1938-1939: Benson, Hevlyn Dirck. Richmond Hill House". 25 SEP. 1923
  12. ^ "Robert Benson (1739-1823)". www.nyhistory.org. New-York Historical Society. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  13. ^ Youngs, Florence Evelyn Pratt; Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York (1914). Portraits of the Presidents of The Society, 1835-1914. New York, NY: Order of the Society. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  14. ^ a b c d Arthur D. Benson Genealogical Notes and Correspondence Concerning Egbert Benson and the Benson Family 1938 Control, manuscript collection finding aid, Archives at Queens Library: "Correspondence" Folder: 179/1 1938-1939: Benson, Hevlyn Dirck. "Recognition Asked For N.Y. State's First Attorney General Buried on L.I." Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 21 JUN. 1936

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Office established
Attorney General of New York
1777–1789
Succeeded by
Richard Varick
Preceded by
Seat established by 2 Stat. 89
Chief Judge of the United States Circuit Court for the Second Circuit
1801–1802
Succeeded by
Seat abolished
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Seat established
United States Representative from New York's 3rd congressional district
1789–1793
Succeeded by
Philip Van Cortlandt
Preceded by
William Paulding Jr.
United States Representative from New York's 2nd congressional district
1813
Succeeded by
William Irving